November 7, 2014

Lemony Snicket joins Netflix



Kids prefer bad beginnings to happy endings

First Gilmore Girls, now this. Netflix announced yesterday that it is adapting Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events in to a TV series.

A Series of Unfortunate Events follows the adventures of the Baudelaire siblings, who are first orphaned after their parents die in a fire, and then pursued by their evil distant relative Count Olaf, who uses all sorts of clever tricks and disguises in his attempts to steal the family fortune. Solemn and dark, with a wry narrator who always had bad news to deliver about the misfortunes of the children, the books preferred disaster and cliff-hangers to neat and happy endings. As a result, kids adored them.

The first title in the hugely popular A Series of Unfortunate Events was published in 1999 and the series eventually ran to 13 novels, as well as countless associated books, merchandise, video games and a film adaptation. According to The Bookseller, the series of books has sold over 4 million copies to date.

Commenting on the announcement the book’s author, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) told The Bookseller:

I can’t believe it…After years of providing top-quality entertainment on demand, Netflix is risking its reputation and its success by associating itself with my dismaying and upsetting books.

If done right, the drama series is sure to be a huge success. But doing it right will be a challenge. The 2004 film adaptation, which concentrated on the first three novels, was criticised for being too funny and for giving the story a happy ending, even if Jim Carrey was perfectly cast as Count Olaf.

For the drama series, Paramount will again produce and Handler will act as executive producer. Netflix’s v.p. of original content Cindy Holland said that in the series they had found “fantastic material that appeals to both parents and kids”. Let’s just hope that the series retains the original darkness and distress of the books. That’s what kids really want in their entertainment, whatever their parents say.

Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that the first installment of A Series of Unfortunate Events was published in 2009.

Zeljka Marosevic is the managing director of Melville House UK.